Creatine. You might recognize it from the gym scene, linked to muscle building and athletic performance. But what about pregnancy? This entry dives into the growing interest in creatine for expectant mothers.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a natural substance your body already produces, found in muscles, and stored as energy. It’s also present in some foods like red meat and fish. Research suggests creatine plays a vital role in energy production for various tissues, including those crucial for pregnancy (1).

Figure 1. Importance of creatine metabolism in whole-body physiology. Taken from Bonilla et al. (2021)

Why the Interest in Creatine and Pregnancy?

Creatine is crucial for placental energy metabolism and fetal growth. Studies also highlight the importance of creatine at supplementing a mother’s diet during pregnancy might improve the health of both mom and baby (2-4). This has led researchers to explore the potential benefits of creatine supplementation during high-risk pregnancy (5, 6).

Creatine’s Potential Benefits for Pregnancy

  • Prevent malnutrition: Evidence shows that 6 out of 10 pregnant women (57.2%) consume creatine below the recommended quantities for an adult female, indicating a possible risk of creatine malnutrition in this population (7).
  • Energy Production: Creatine might enhance energy production in the placenta, the developing baby, and the uterus’ muscle layer (myometrium), which plays a critical role in labor (8).
  • Fetal Development: Early research suggests creatine may be essential for a healthy growing baby (6).

Is Creatine Safe During Pregnancy?

Here’s the key takeaway: there’s robust and conclusive evidence to definitively say creatine is safe in non-pregnant women (9). During pregnancy, as far as we know, there have been no reports of adverse effects associated with creatine supplementation, nor have we observed any issues in the comprehensive animal studies conducted – says Dr. Stacey Ellery (Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Australia). Watch her talk titled “Creatine Metabolism in Female Reproduction and Pregnancy” in our YouTube Channel.

Disclaimer: This blog post provides a general overview. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice.

References:

1.           Bonilla DA, Kreider RB, Stout JR, Forero DA, Kerksick CM, Roberts MD, et al. Metabolic Basis of Creatine in Health and Disease: A Bioinformatics-Assisted Review. Nutrients. 2021;13(4).

2.           de Guingand DL, Palmer KR, Callahan DL, Davies-Tuck ML, Snow RJ, Ellery SJ. The role of creatine in placental energy metabolism at birth: Initial insights from the Creatine and Pregnancy Outcomes (CPO) cohort study of low-risk pregnancy. Placenta. 2023;140.

3.           Ellery SJ, LaRosa DA, Kett MM, Della Gatta PA, Snow RJ, Walker DW, et al. Dietary creatine supplementation during pregnancy: a study on the effects of creatine supplementation on creatine homeostasis and renal excretory function in spiny mice. Amino Acids. 2016;48(8):1819-30.

4.           LaRosa DA, Ellery SJ, Parkington HC, Snow RJ, Walker DW, Dickinson H. Maternal Creatine Supplementation during Pregnancy Prevents Long-Term Changes in Diaphragm Muscle Structure and Function after Birth Asphyxia. PLoS One. 2016;11(3):e0149840.

5.           Ostojic SM. Creatine metabolism during pregnancy: advancing toward understanding. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2024;119(3):591-2.

6.           Dickinson H, Ellery S, Ireland Z, LaRosa D, Snow R, Walker DW. Creatine supplementation during pregnancy: summary of experimental studies suggesting a treatment to improve fetal and neonatal morbidity and reduce mortality in high-risk human pregnancy. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2014;14:150.

7.           Ostojic SM, Forbes SC, Candow DG. Do Pregnant Women Consume Enough Creatine? Evidence from NHANES 2011-2018. Ann Nutr Metab. 2022;78(2):114-6.

8.           Muccini AM, Tran NT, de Guingand DL, Philip M, Della Gatta PA, Galinsky R, et al. Creatine Metabolism in Female Reproduction, Pregnancy and Newborn Health. Nutrients. 2021;13(2).

9.           de Guingand DL, Palmer KR, Snow RJ, Davies-Tuck ML, Ellery SJ. Risk of Adverse Outcomes in Females Taking Oral Creatine Monohydrate: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2020;12(6).

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